The latest Businessweek has a discussion/debate on whether "the search engine makes it so easy to get data that users forgo deeper study?"
Sure, Google can deliver facts and figures at lightning speed. But is it turning users away from other avenues of learning such as books, scholarly magazines, lectures, and classes? Hear experts Jakob Nielsen (FOR) and David Alan Grier(AGAINST) discuss the question "Is Google Killing Intellect?", and respond to student comments.
(I have to preface whatever I write with stating that I am a technophile and I usually embrace technology in every shape and form... ) I personally have started to push my children and students more towards the library these days simply because I am beginning to get leary of the whole "Wikipedia culture" of getting information that is unfiltered and very often grade- & level-inappropriate. I ask my sons to first browse all the encyclopedias and other reference books we have at home for "basic" information on a topic and go to the Internet (which to them is synonymous with going to the Wikipedia most of the time) only for specific pieces of information that they don't find in books/magazines. The richness of the images that accompany the text in most encyclopedias and the fact that the information is somewhat "contained" is something I find comfort in. (Finding a decent alternative website to WIkipedia is also oftentimes high on my agenda and I strongly suggest teachers of kids in elementary school, if not middle school as well, to do the same.).
But the truth is that kids today do need to learn how to scout cleverly for the information they need, and make sense of huge amounts of information, evaluate the information critically, and to use the Internet and Google to their advantage. Little kids (younger than 12-13 years of age) are incapable of performing effective searches anyway, so the process must be scaffolded for them.
Clearly, there are pros and cons to extensive use of Google, which is why it makes for an interesting debate!